what her father was saying was correct.
“When the snow melts they’ll sink in the Polish swamps. Only they could fail to see it,” the prince continued, evidently thinking of the campaign of 1807 which seemed to him so recent. “Bennigsen should have advanced into Prussia sooner, then things would have taken a different turn…”
“But, Prince,” Dessalles began timidly, “the letter mentions Vitebsk….”
“Ah, the letter? Yes…” replied the prince peevishly. “Yes… yes…” His face suddenly took on a morose expression. He paused. “Yes, he writes that the French were beaten at… at… what river is it?”
Dessalles dropped his eyes.
“The prince says nothing about that,” he remarked gently.
“Doesn’t he? But I didn’t invent it myself.”
No one spoke for a long time.
“Yes… yes… Well, Michael Ivanovich,” he suddenly went on, raising his head and pointing to the plan of the building, “tell me how you mean to alter it….”
Michael Ivanovich went up to the plan, and the prince after speaking to him about the building looked angrily at Princess Mary and Dessalles and went to his own room.
Princess Mary saw Dessalles’ embarrassed and astonished look fixed on her father, noticed his silence, and was struck by the fact that her father had forgotten his son’s letter on the drawing-room table; but she was not only afraid to speak of it and ask Dessalles the reason of his confusion and silence, but was afraid even to think about it.
In the evening Michael Ivanovich, sent by the prince, came to Princess Mary for Prince Andrew’s letter which had been forgotten in the drawing room. She gave it to him and, unpleasant as it was to her to do so, ventured to ask him what her father was doing.
“Always busy,” replied Michael Ivanovich with a respectfully ironic smile which caused Princess Mary to turn pale. “He’s worrying very much about the new building. He has been reading a little, but now”- Michael Ivanovich went on, lowering his voice- “now he’s at his desk, busy with his will, I expect.” (One of the prince’s favorite occupations of late had been the preparation of some papers he meant to leave at his death and which he called his “will.”)
“And Alpatych is being sent to Smolensk?” asked Princess Mary.
“Oh, yes, he has been waiting to start for some time.”
When Michael Ivanovich returned to the study with the letter, the old prince, with spectacles on and a shade over his eyes, was sitting at his open bureau with screened candles, holding a paper in his outstretched hand, and in a somewhat dramatic attitude was reading his manuscript- his “Remarks” as he termed it- which was to be transmitted to the Emperor after his death.
When Michael Ivanovich went in there were tears in the prince’s eyes evoked by the memory of the time when the paper he was now reading had been written. He took the letter from Michael Ivanovich’s hand, put it in his pocket, folded up his papers, and called in Alpatych who had long been waiting.
The prince had a list of things to be bought in Smolensk and, walking up and down the room past Alpatych who stood by the door, he gave his instructions.
“First, notepaper- do you hear? Eight quires, like this sample, gilt-edged… it must be exactly like the sample. Varnish, sealing wax, as in Michael Ivanovich’s list.”
He paced up and down for a while and glanced at his notes.
“Then hand to the governor in person a letter about the deed.”
Next, bolts for the doors of the new building were wanted and had to be of a special shape the prince had himself designed, and a leather case had to be ordered to keep the “will” in.
The instructions to Alpatych took over two hours and still the prince did not let him go. He sat down, sank into thought, closed his eyes, and dozed off. Alpatych made a slight movement.
“Well, go, go! If anything more is wanted I’ll send after you.”
Alpatych went out. The prince again went to his bureau, glanced into it, fingered his papers, closed the bureau again, and sat down at the table to write to the governor.
It was already late when he rose after sealing the letter. He wished to sleep, but he knew he would not be able to and that most depressing thoughts came to him in bed. So he called Tikhon and went through the rooms with him to show him where to set up the bed for that night.
He went about looking at every corner. Every place seemed unsatisfactory, but worst of all was his customary couch in the study. That couch was dreadful to him, probably because of the oppressive thoughts he had had when lying there. It was unsatisfactory everywhere, but the corner behind the piano in the sitting room was better than other places: he had never slept there yet.
With the help of a footman Tikhon brought in the bedstead and began putting it up.
“That’s not right! That’s not right!” cried the prince, and himself pushed it a few inches from the corner and then closer in again.
“Well, at last I’ve finished, now I’ll rest,” thought the prince, and let Tikhon undress him.
Frowning with vexation at the effort necessary to divest himself of his coat and trousers, the prince undressed, sat down heavily on the bed, and appeared to be meditating as he looked contemptuously at his withered yellow legs. He was not meditating, but only deferring the moment of making the effort to lift those legs up and turn over on the bed. “Ugh, how hard it is! Oh, that this toil might end and you would release me!” thought he. Pressing his lips together he made that effort for the twenty-thousandth time and lay down. But hardly had he done so before he felt the bed rocking backwards and forwards beneath him as if it were breathing heavily and jolting. This happened to him almost every night. He opened his eyes as they were closing.
“No peace, damn them!” he muttered, angry he knew not with whom. “Ah yes, there was something else important, very important, that I was keeping till I should be in bed. The bolts? No, I told him about them. No, it was something, something in the drawing room. Princess Mary talked some nonsense. Dessalles, that fool, said something. Something in my pocket- can’t remember…”
“Tikhon, what did we talk about at dinner?”
“About Prince Michael…”
“Be quiet, quiet!” The prince slapped his hand on the table. “Yes, I know, Prince Andrew’s letter! Princess Mary read it. Dessalles said something about Vitebsk. Now I’ll read it.”
He had the letter taken from his pocket and the table- on which stood a glass of lemonade and a spiral wax candle- moved close to the bed, and putting on his spectacles he began reading. Only now in the stillness of the night, reading it by the faint light under the green shade, did he grasp its meaning for a moment.
“The French at Vitebsk, in four days’ march they may be at Smolensk; perhaps are already there! Tikhon!” Tikhon jumped up. “No, no, I don’t want anything!” he shouted.
He put the letter under the candlestick and closed his eyes. And there rose before him the Danube at bright noonday: reeds, the Russian camp, and himself a young general without a wrinkle on his ruddy face, vigorous and alert, entering Potemkin’s gaily colored tent, and a burning sense of jealousy of “the favorite” agitated him now as strongly as it had done then. He recalled all the words spoken at that first meeting with Potemkin. And he saw before him a plump, rather sallow-faced, short, stout woman, the Empress Mother, with her smile and her words at her first gracious reception of him, and then that same face on the catafalque, and the encounter he had with Zubov over her coffin about his right to kiss her hand.
“Oh, quicker, quicker! To get back to that time and have done with all the present! Quicker, quicker- and that they should leave me in peace!”
Bald Hills, Prince Nicholas Bolkonski’s estate, lay forty miles east from Smolensk and two miles from the main road to Moscow.
The same evening that the prince gave his instructions to Alpatych, Dessalles, having asked to see Princess Mary, told her that, as the prince was not very well and was taking no steps to secure his safety, though from Prince Andrew’s letter it was evident that to remain at Bald Hills might be dangerous, he respectfully advised her to send a letter by Alpatych to the Provincial Governor at Smolensk, asking him to let her know the state of affairs and the extent of the danger to which Bald Hills was exposed. Dessalles wrote this letter to the Governor for Princess Mary, she signed it, and it was given to Alpatych with instructions to hand it to the Governor and to come back as quickly as possible if there was danger.
Having received all his orders Alpatych, wearing a white beaver hat- a present from the prince- and carrying a stick as the prince did, went out accompanied by his family. Three well-fed roans stood ready harnessed to a small conveyance with a leather hood.
The larger bell was muffled and the little bells on the harness stuffed with paper. The prince allowed no one at Bald Hills to drive with ringing bells; but on a long journey Alpatych liked to have them. His satellites- the senior clerk, a countinghouse clerk, a scullery maid, a cook, two old women, a little pageboy, the coachman, and various domestic serfs- were seeing him off.
His daughter placed chintz-covered down cushions for him to sit on and behind his back. His old sister-in-law popped in a small bundle, and one of the coachmen helped him into the vehicle.
“There! There! Women’s fuss! Women, women!” said Alpatych, puffing and speaking rapidly just as the prince did, and he climbed into the trap.
After giving the clerk orders about the work to be done, Alpatych, not trying to imitate the prince now, lifted the hat from his bald head and crossed himself three times.
“If there is anything… come back, Yakov Alpatych! For Christ’s sake think of us!” cried his wife, referring to the rumors of war and the enemy.
“Women, women! Women’s fuss!” muttered Alpatych to himself and started on his journey, looking round at the fields of yellow rye and the still-green, thickly growing oats, and at other quite black fields just being plowed a second time.
As he went along he looked with pleasure at the year’s splendid crop of corn, scrutinized the strips of ryefield which here and there were already being reaped, made his calculations as to the sowing and the harvest, and asked himself whether he had not forgotten any of the prince’s orders.
Having baited the horses twice on the way, he arrived at the town toward evening on the fourth of August.
Alpatych kept meeting and overtaking baggage trains and troops on the road. As he approached Smolensk he heard the sounds of distant firing, but these did not impress him. What struck him most was the sight of a splendid field of oats in which a camp had been pitched and which was being mown down by the soldiers, evidently for fodder. This fact impressed Alpatych, but in thinking about his own business he soon forgot it.
All the interests of his life for more than thirty years had been bounded by the will of the prince, and he never went beyond that limit. Everything not connected with the execution of the prince’s orders did not interest and did not even exist for Alpatych.
On reaching Smolensk on the evening of the fourth of August he put up in the Gachina suburb across the Dnieper, at the inn kept by Ferapontov, where he had been in the habit of putting up for the last thirty years. Some thirty years ago Ferapontov, by Alpatych’s advice, had bought a wood from the prince, had begun to trade, and now had a house, an inn, and a corn dealer’s shop in that province. He was a stout, dark, red-faced peasant in the forties, with thick lips, a broad knob of a nose, similar knobs over his black frowning brows, and a round belly.
Wearing a waistcoat over his cotton shirt, Ferapontov was standing before his shop which opened onto the street. On seeing Alpatych he went up to him.
“You’re welcome, Yakov Alpatych. Folks are leaving the town, but you have come to it,” said he.
“Why are they leaving the town?” asked Alpatych.
“That’s what I say. Folks are foolish! Always afraid of the French.”
“Women’s fuss, women’s fuss!” said Alpatych.
“Just what I think, Yakov Alpatych. What I say is: orders have been given not to let them in, so that must be right. And the peasants are asking three rubles for carting- it isn’t Christian!”
Yakov Alpatych heard without heeding. He asked for a samovar and for hay for his horses, and when he had had his tea he went to bed.
All night long troops were moving past the inn. Next morning Alpatych donned a jacket he wore only in town and went out on business. It was a sunny morning and by eight o’clock it was already hot. “A good day for harvesting,” thought Alpatych.
From beyond the town firing had been heard since early morning. At eight o’clock the booming of cannon was added to the sound of musketry. Many people were hurrying through the streets and there were many soldiers, but cabs were still driving about, tradesmen stood at their shops, and service was being held in the churches as usual. Alpatych went to the shops, to government offices, to the post office, and to the Governor’s. In the offices and shops and at the post office everyone was talking about the army and about the enemy who was already attacking the town, everybody was asking what should be done, and all were trying to calm one another.
In front of the Governor’s house Alpatych found a large number of people, Cossacks, and a traveling carriage of the Governor’s. At the porch he met two of the landed gentry, one of whom he knew. This man, an ex-captain of police, was saying angrily:
“It’s no joke, you know! It’s all very well if you’re single. ‘One man though undone is but one,’ as the proverb says, but with thirteen in your family and all the property… They’ve brought us to utter ruin! What sort of governors are they to do that? They ought to be hanged- the brigands!…”
“Oh come, that’s enough!” said the other.
“What do I care? Let him hear! We’re not dogs,” said the ex-captain of police, and looking round he noticed Alpatych.
“Oh, Yakov Alpatych! What have you come for?”
“To see the Governor by his excellency’s order,” answered Alpatych, lifting his head and proudly thrusting his hand into the bosom of his coat as he always did when he mentioned the prince…. He has ordered me to inquire into the position of affairs,” he added.
“Yes, go and find out!” shouted the angry gentleman. “They’ve brought things to such a pass that there are no carts or anything!… There it is again, do you hear?” said he, pointing in the direction whence came the sounds of firing.
“They’ve brought us all to ruin… the brigands!” he repeated, and descended the porch steps.
Alpatych swayed his head and went upstairs. In the waiting room were tradesmen, women, and officials, looking silently at one another. The door of the Governor’s room opened and they all rose and moved forward. An official ran out, said some words to a merchant, called a stout official with a cross hanging on his neck to follow him, and vanished again, evidently wishing to avoid the inquiring looks and questions addressed to him. Alpatych moved forward and next time the official came out addressed him, one hand placed in the breast of his buttoned coat, and handed him two letters.
“To his Honor Baron Asch, from General-in-Chief Prince Bolkonski,” he announced with such solemnity and significance that the official turned to him and took the letters.
A few minutes later the Governor received Alpatych and hurriedly said to him:
“Inform the prince and princess that I knew nothing: I acted on the highest instructions- here…” and he handed a paper to Alpatych. “Still, as the prince is unwell my advice is that they should go to Moscow. I am just starting myself. Inform them…”
But the Governor did not finish: a dusty perspiring officer ran into the room and began to say something in French. The Governor’s face expressed terror.
“Go,” he said, nodding his head to Alpatych, and began questioning the officer.
Eager, frightened, helpless glances were turned on Alpatych when he came out of the Governor’s room. Involuntarily listening now to the firing, which had drawn nearer and was increasing in strength, Alpatych hurried to his inn. The paper handed to him by the Governor said this:
“I assure you that the town of Smolensk is not in the slightest danger as yet and it is unlikely that it will be threatened with any. I from the one side and Prince Bagration from the other are marching to unite our forces before Smolensk, which junction will be effected on the 22nd instant, and both armies with their united forces will defend our compatriots of the province entrusted to your care till our efforts shall have beaten back the enemies of our Fatherland, or till the last warrior in our valiant ranks has perished. From this you will see that you have a perfect right to reassure the inhabitants of Smolensk, for those defended by two such brave armies may feel assured of victory.” (Instructions from Barclay de Tolly to Baron Asch, the civil governor of Smolensk, 1812.)
People were anxiously roaming about the streets.
Carts piled high with household utensils, chairs, and cupboards kept emerging from the gates of the yards and moving along the streets. Loaded carts stood at the house next to Ferapontov’s and women were wailing and lamenting as they said good-by. A small watchdog ran round barking in front of the harnessed horses.
Alpatych entered the innyard at a quicker pace than usual and went straight to the shed where his horses and trap were. The coachman was asleep. He woke him up, told him to harness, and went into the passage. From the host’s room came the sounds of a child crying, the despairing sobs of a woman, and the hoarse angry shouting of Ferapontov. The cook began running hither and thither in the passage like a frightened hen, just as Alpatych entered.
“He’s done her to death. Killed the mistress!… Beat her… dragged her about so!…”
“What for?” asked Alpatych.
“She kept begging to go away. She’s a woman! ‘Take me away,’ says she, ‘don’t let me perish with my little children! Folks,’ she says, ‘are all gone, so why,’ she says, ‘don’t we go?’ And he began beating and pulling her about so!”
At these words Alpatych nodded as if in approval, and not wishing to hear more went to the door of the room opposite the innkeeper’s, where he had left his purchases.
“You brute, you murderer!” screamed a thin, pale woman who, with a baby in her arms and her kerchief torn from her head, burst through the door at that moment and down the steps into the yard.
Ferapontov came out after her, but on seeing Alpatych adjusted his waistcoat, smoothed his hair, yawned, and followed Alpatych into the opposite room.
“Going already?” said he.
Alpatych, without answering or looking at his host, sorted his packages and asked how much he owed.
“We’ll reckon up! Well, have you been to the Governor’s?” asked Ferapontov. “What has been decided?”
Alpatych replied that the Governor had not told him anything definite.
“With our business, how can we get away?” said Ferapontov. “We’d have to pay seven rubles a cartload to Dorogobuzh and I tell them they’re not Christians to ask it! Selivanov, now, did a good stroke last Thursday- sold flour to the army at nine rubles a sack. Will you have some tea?” he added.
While the horses were being harnessed Alpatych and Ferapontov over their tea talked of the price of corn, the crops, and the good weather for harvesting.
“Well, it seems to be getting quieter,” remarked Ferapontov, finishing his third cup of tea and getting up. “Ours must have got the best of it. The orders were not to let them in. So we’re in force, it seems…. They say the other day Matthew Ivanych Platov drove them into the river Marina and drowned some eighteen thousand in one day.”
Alpatych collected his parcels, handed them to the coachman who had come in, and settled up with the innkeeper. The noise of wheels, hoofs, and bells was heard from the gateway as a little trap passed out.
It was by now late in the afternoon. Half the street was in shadow, the other half brightly lit by the sun. Alpatych looked out of the window and went to the door. Suddenly the strange sound of a far-off whistling and thud was heard, followed by a boom of cannon blending into a dull roar that set the windows rattling.
He went out into the street: two men were running past toward the bridge. From different sides came whistling sounds and the thud of cannon balls and bursting shells falling on the town. But these sounds were hardly heard in comparison with the noise of the firing outside the town and attracted little attention from the inhabitants. The town was being bombarded by a hundred and thirty guns which Napoleon had ordered up after four o’clock. The people did not at once realize the meaning of this bombardment.
At first the noise of the falling bombs and shells only aroused curiosity. Ferapontov’s wife, who till then had not ceased wailing under the shed, became quiet and with the baby in her arms went to the gate, listening to the sounds and looking in silence at the people.
The cook and a shop assistant came to the gate. With lively curiosity everyone tried to get a glimpse of the projectiles as they flew over their heads. Several people came round the corner talking eagerly.
“What force!” remarked one. “Knocked the roof and ceiling all to splinters!”
“Routed up the earth like a pig,” said another.
“That’s grand, it bucks one up!” laughed the first. “Lucky you jumped aside, or it would have wiped you out!”
Others joined those men and stopped and told how cannon balls had fallen on a house close to them. Meanwhile still more projectiles, now with the swift sinister whistle of a cannon ball, now with the agreeable intermittent whistle of a shell, flew over people’s heads incessantly, but not one fell close by, they all flew over. Alpatych was getting into his trap. The innkeeper stood at the gate.
“What are you staring at?” he shouted to the cook, who in her red skirt, with sleeves rolled up, swinging her bare elbows, had stepped to the corner to listen to what was being said.
“What marvels!” she exclaimed, but hearing her master’s voice she turned back. pulling down her tucked-up skirt.
Once more something whistled, but this time quite close, swooping downwards like a little bird; a flame flashed in the middle of the street, something exploded, and the street was shrouded in smoke.
“Scoundrel, what are you doing?” shouted the innkeeper, rushing to the cook.
At that moment the pitiful wailing of women was heard from different sides, the frightened baby began to cry, and people crowded silently with pale faces round the cook. The loudest sound in that crowd was her wailing.
“Oh-h-h! Dear souls, dear kind souls! Don’t let me die! My good souls!…”
Five minutes later no one remained in the street. The cook, with her thigh broken by a shell splinter, had been carried into the kitchen. Alpatych, his coachman, Ferapontov’s wife and children and the house porter were all sitting in the cellar, listening. The roar of guns, the whistling of projectiles, and the piteous moaning of the cook, which rose above the other sounds, did not cease for a moment. The mistress rocked and hushed her baby and when anyone came into the cellar asked in a pathetic whisper what had become of her husband who had remained in the street. A shopman who entered told her that her husband had gone with others to the cathedral, whence they were fetching the wonder-working icon of Smolensk.
Toward dusk the cannonade began to subside. Alpatych left the cellar and stopped in the doorway. The evening sky that had been so clear was clouded with smoke, through which, high up, the sickle of the new moon shone strangely. Now that the terrible din of the guns had ceased a hush seemed to reign over the town, broken only by the rustle of footsteps, the moaning, the distant cries, and the crackle of fires which seemed widespread everywhere. The cook’s moans had now subsided. On two sides black curling clouds of smoke rose and spread from the fires. Through the streets soldiers in various uniforms walked or ran confusedly in different directions like ants from a ruined ant-hill. Several of them ran into Ferapontov’s yard before Alpatych’s eyes. Alpatych went out to the gate. A retreating regiment, thronging and hurrying, blocked the street.
Noticing him, an officer said: “The town is being abandoned. Get away, get away!” and then, turning to the soldiers, shouted:
“I’ll teach you to run into the yards!”
Alpatych went back to the house, called the coachman, and told him to set off. Ferapontov’s whole household came out too, following Alpatych and the coachman. The women, who had been silent till then, suddenly began to wail as they looked at the fires- the smoke and even the flames of which could be seen in the failing twilight- and as if in reply the same kind of lamentation was heard from other parts of the street. Inside the shed Alpatych and the coachman arranged the tangled reins and traces of their horses with trembling hands.
As Alpatych was driving out of the gate he saw some ten soldiers in Ferapontov’s open shop, talking loudly and filling their bags and knapsacks with flour and sunflower seeds. Just then Ferapontov returned and entered his shop. On seeing the soldiers he was about to shout at them, but suddenly stopped and, clutching at his hair, burst into sobs and laughter:
“Loot everything, lads! Don’t let those devils get it!” he cried, taking some bags of flour himself and throwing them into the street.
Some of the soldiers were frightened and ran away, others went on filling their bags. On seeing Alpatych, Ferapontov turned to him:
“Russia is done for!” he cried. “Alpatych, I’ll set the place on fire myself. We’re done for!…” and Ferapontov ran into the yard.
Soldiers were passing in a constant stream along the street blocking it completely, so that Alpatych could not pass out and had to wait. Ferapontov’s wife and children were also sitting in a cart waiting till it was possible to drive out.
Night had come. There were stars in the sky and the new moon shone out amid the smoke that screened it. On the sloping descent to the Dnieper Alpatych’s cart and that of the innkeeper’s wife, which were slowly moving amid the rows of soldiers and of other vehicles, had to stop. In a side street near the crossroads where the vehicles had stopped, a house and some shops were on fire. This fire was already burning itself out. The flames now died down and were lost in the black smoke, now suddenly flared up again brightly, lighting up with strange distinctness the faces of the people crowding at the crossroads. Black figures flitted about before the fire, and through the incessant crackling of the flames talking and shouting could be heard. Seeing that his trap would not be able to move on for some time, Alpatych got down and turned into the side street to look at the fire. Soldiers were continually rushing backwards and forwards near it, and he saw two of them and a man in a frieze coat dragging burning beams into another yard across the street, while others carried bundles of hay.
Alpatych went up to a large crowd standing before a high barn which was blazing briskly. The walls were all on fire and the back wall had fallen in, the wooden roof was collapsing, and the rafters were alight. The crowd was evidently watching for the roof to fall in, and Alpatych watched for it too.
“Alpatych!” a familiar voice suddenly hailed the old man.
“Mercy on us! Your excellency!” answered Alpatych, immediately recognizing the voice of his young prince.
Prince Andrew in his riding cloak, mounted on a black horse, was looking at Alpatych from the back of the crowd.
“Why are you here?” he asked.
“Your… your excellency,” stammered Alpatych and broke into sobs. “Are we really lost? Master!…”
“Why are you here?” Prince Andrew repeated.
At that moment the flames flared up and showed his young master’s pale worn face. Alpatych told how he had been sent there and how difficult it was to get away.
“Are we really quite lost, your excellency?” he asked again.
Prince Andrew without replying took out a notebook and raising his knee began writing in pencil on a page he tore out. He wrote to his sister:
“Smolensk is being abandoned. Bald Hills will be occupied by the enemy within a week. Set off immediately for Moscow. Let me know at once when you will start. Send by special messenger to Usvyazh.”
Having written this and given the paper to Alpatych, he told him how to arrange for departure of the prince, the princess, his son, and the boy’s tutor, and how and where to let him know immediately. Before he had had time to finish giving these instructions, a chief of staff followed by a suite galloped up to him.
“You are a colonel?” shouted the chief of staff with a German accent, in a voice familiar to Prince Andrew. “Houses are set on fire in your presence and you stand by! What does this mean? You will answer for it!” shouted Berg, who was now assistant to the chief of staff of the commander of the left flank of the infantry of the first army, a place, as Berg said, “very agreeable and well en evidence.”
Prince Andrew looked at him and without replying went on speaking to Alpatych.
“So tell them that I shall await a reply till the tenth, and if by the tenth I don’t receive news that they have all got away I shall have to throw up everything and come myself to Bald Hills.”
“Prince,” said Berg, recognizing Prince Andrew, “I only spoke because I have to obey orders, because I always do obey exactly…. You must please excuse me,” he went on apologetically.
Something cracked in the flames. The fire died down for a moment and wreaths of black smoke rolled from under the roof. There was another terrible crash and something huge collapsed.
“Ou-rou-rou!” yelled the crowd, echoing the crash of the collapsing roof of the barn, the burning grain in which diffused a cakelike aroma all around. The flames flared up again, lighting the animated, delighted, exhausted faces of the spectators.
The man in the frieze coat raised his arms and shouted:
“It’s fine, lads! Now it’s raging… It’s fine!”
“That’s the owner himself,” cried several voices.
“Well then,” continued Prince Andrew to Alpatych, “report to them as I have told you”; and not replying a word to Berg who was now mute beside him, he touched his horse and rode down the side street.
From Smolensk the troops continued to retreat, followed by the enemy. On the tenth of August the regiment Prince Andrew commanded was marching along the highroad past the avenue leading to Bald Hills. Heat and drought had continued for more than three weeks. Each day fleecy clouds floated across the sky and occasionally veiled the sun, but toward evening the sky cleared again and the sun set in reddish-brown mist. Heavy night dews alone refreshed the earth. The unreaped corn was scorched and shed its grain. The marshes dried up. The cattle lowed from hunger, finding no food on the sun-parched meadows. Only at night and in the forests while the dew lasted was there any freshness. But on the road, the highroad along which the troops marched, there was no such freshness even at night or when the road passed through the forest; the dew was imperceptible on the sandy dust churned up more than six inches deep. As soon as day dawned the march began. The artillery and baggage wagons moved noiselessly through the deep dust that rose to the very hubs of the wheels, and the infantry sank ankle-deep in that soft, choking, hot dust that never cooled even at night. Some of this dust was kneaded by the feet and wheels, while the rest rose and hung like a cloud over the troops, settling in eyes, ears, hair, and nostrils, and worst of all in the lungs of the men and beasts as they moved along that road. The higher the sun rose the higher rose that cloud of dust, and through the screen of its hot fine particles one could look with naked eye at the sun, which showed like a huge crimson ball in the unclouded sky. There was no wind, and the men choked in that motionless atmosphere. They marched with handkerchiefs tied over their noses and mouths. When they passed through a village they all rushed to the wells and fought for the water and drank it down to the mud.
Prince Andrew was in command of a regiment, and the management of that regiment, the welfare of the men and the necessity of receiving and giving orders, engrossed him. The burning of Smolensk and its abandonment made an epoch in his life. A novel feeling of anger against the foe made him forget his own sorrow. He was entirely devoted to the affairs of his regiment and was considerate and kind to his men and officers. In the regiment they called him “our prince,” were proud of him and loved him. But he was kind and gentle only to those of his regiment, to Timokhin and the like- people quite new to him, belonging to a different world and who could not know and understand his past. As soon as he came across a former acquaintance or anyone from the staff, he bristled up immediately and grew spiteful, ironical, and contemptuous. Everything that reminded him of his past was repugnant to him, and so in his relations with that former circle he confined himself to trying to do his duty and not to be unfair.
In truth everything presented itself in a dark and gloomy light to Prince Andrew, especially after the abandonment of Smolensk on the sixth of August (he considered that it could and should have been defended) and after his sick father had had to flee to Moscow, abandoning to pillage his dearly beloved Bald Hills which he had built and peopled. But despite this, thanks to his regiment, Prince Andrew had something to think about entirely apart from general questions. Two days previously he had received news that his father, son, and sister had left for Moscow; and though there was nothing for him to do at Bald Hills, Prince Andrew with a characteristic desire to foment his own grief decided that he must ride there.
He ordered his horse to be saddled and, leaving his regiment on the march, rode to his father’s estate where he had been born and spent his childhood. Riding past the pond where there used always to be dozens of women chattering as they rinsed their linen or beat it with wooden beetles, Prince Andrew noticed that there was not a soul about and that the little washing wharf, torn from its place and half submerged, was floating on its side in the middle of the pond. He rode to the keeper’s lodge. No one at the stone entrance gates of the drive and the door stood open. Grass had already begun to grow on the garden paths, and horses and calves were straying in the English park. Prince Andrew rode up to the hothouse; some of the glass panes were broken, and of the trees in tubs some were overturned and others dried up. He called for Taras the gardener, but no one replied. Having gone round the corner of the hothouse to the ornamental garden, he saw that the carved garden fence was broken and branches of the plum trees had been torn off with the fruit. An old peasant whom Prince Andrew in his childhood had often seen at the gate was sitting on a green garden seat, plaiting a bast shoe.
He was deaf and did not hear Prince Andrew ride up. He was sitting on the seat the old prince used to like to sit on, and beside him strips of bast were hanging on the broken and withered branch of a magnolia.
Prince Andrew rode up to the house. Several limes in the old garden had been cut down and a piebald mare and her foal were wandering in front of the house among the rosebushes. The shutters were all closed, except at one window which was open. A little serf boy, seeing Prince Andrew, ran into the house. Alpatych, having sent his family away, was alone at Bald Hills and was sitting indoors reading the Lives of the Saints. On hearing that Prince Andrew had come, he went out with his spectacles on his nose, buttoning his coat, and, hastily stepping up, without a word began weeping and kissing Prince Andrew’s knee.
Then, vexed at his own weakness, he turned away and began to report on the position of affairs. Everything precious and valuable had been removed to Bogucharovo. Seventy quarters of grain had also been carted away. The hay and the spring corn, of which Alpatych said there had been a remarkable crop that year, had been commandeered by the troops and mown down while still green. The peasants were ruined; some of them too had gone to Bogucharovo, only a few remained.
Without waiting to hear him out, Prince Andrew asked:
“When did my father and sister leave?” meaning when did they leave for Moscow.
Alpatych, understanding the question to refer to their departure for Bogucharovo, replied that they had left on the seventh and again went into details concerning the estate management, asking for instructions.
“Am I to let the troops have the oats, and to take a receipt for them? We have still six hundred quarters left,” he inquired.
“What am I to say to him?” thought Prince Andrew, looking down on the old man’s bald head shining in the sun and seeing by the expression on his face that the old man himself understood how untimely such questions were and only asked them to allay his grief.
“Yes, let them have it,” replied Prince Andrew.
“If you noticed some disorder in the garden,” said Alpatych, “it was impossible to prevent it. Three regiments have been here and spent the night, dragoons mostly. I took down the name and rank of their commanding officer, to hand in a complaint about it.”
“Well, and what are you going to do? Will you stay here if the enemy occupies the place?” asked Prince Andrew.
Alpatych turned his face to Prince Andrew, looked at him, and suddenly with a solemn gesture raised his arm.
“He is my refuge! His will be done!” he exclaimed.
A group of bareheaded peasants was approaching across the meadow toward the prince.
“Well, good-by!” said Prince Andrew, bending over to Alpatych. “You must go away too, take away what you can and tell the serfs to go to the Ryazan estate or to the one near Moscow.”
Alpatych clung to Prince Andrew’s leg and burst into sobs. Gently disengaging himself, the prince spurred his horse and rode down the avenue at a gallop.
The old man was still sitting in the ornamental garden, like a fly impassive on the face of a loved one who is dead, tapping the last on which he was making the bast shoe, and two little girls, running out from the hot house carrying in their skirts plums they had plucked from the trees there, came upon Prince Andrew. On seeing the young master, the elder one frightened look clutched her younger companion by the hand and hid with her behind a birch tree, not stopping to pick up some green plums they had dropped.
Prince Andrew turned away with startled haste, unwilling to let them see that they had been observed. He was sorry for the pretty frightened little girl, was afraid of looking at her, and yet felt an irresistible desire to do so. A new sensation of comfort and relief came over him when, seeing these girls, he realized the existence of other human interests entirely aloof from his own and just as legitimate as those that occupied him. Evidently these girls passionately desired one thing- to carry away and eat those green plums without being caught- and Prince Andrew shared their wish for the success of their enterprise. He could not resist looking at them once more. Believing their danger past, they sprang from their ambush and, chirruping something in their shrill little voices and holding up their skirts, their bare little sunburned feet scampered merrily and quickly across the meadow grass.
Prince Andrew was somewhat refreshed by having ridden off the dusty highroad along which the troops were moving. But not far from Bald Hills he again came out on the road and overtook his regiment at its halting place by the dam of a small pond. It was past one o’clock. The sun, a red ball through the dust, burned and scorched his back intolerably through his black coat. The dust always hung motionless above the buzz of talk that came from the resting troops. There was no wind. As he crossed the dam Prince Andrew smelled the ooze and freshness of the pond. He longed to get into that water, however dirty it might be, and he glanced round at the pool from whence came sounds of shrieks and laughter. The small, muddy, green pond had risen visibly more than a foot, flooding the dam, because it was full of the naked white bodies of soldiers with brick-red hands, necks, and faces, who were splashing about in it. All this naked white human flesh, laughing and shrieking, floundered about in that dirty pool like carp stuffed into a watering can, and the suggestion of merriment in that floundering mass rendered it specially pathetic.
One fair-haired young soldier of the third company, whom Prince Andrew knew and who had a strap round the calf of one leg, crossed himself, stepped back to get a good run, and plunged into the water; another, a dark noncommissioned officer who was always shaggy, stood up to his waist in the water joyfully wriggling his muscular figure and snorted with satisfaction as he poured the water over his head with hands blackened to the wrists. There were sounds of men slapping one another, yelling, and puffing.
Everywhere on the bank, on the dam, and in the pond, there was healthy, white, muscular flesh. The officer, Timokhin, with his red little nose, standing on the dam wiping himself with a towel, felt confused at seeing the prince, but made up his mind to address him nevertheless.
“It’s very nice, your excellency! Wouldn’t you like to?” said he.
“It’s dirty,” replied Prince Andrew, making a grimace.
“We’ll clear it out for you in a minute,” said Timokhin, and, still undressed, ran off to clear the men out of the pond.
“The prince wants to bathe.”
“What prince? Ours?” said many voices, and the men were in such haste to clear out that the prince could hardly stop them. He decided that he would rather himself with water in the barn.
“Flesh, bodies, cannon fodder!” he thought, and he looked at his own naked body and shuddered, not from cold but from a sense of disgust and horror he did not himself understand, aroused by the sight of that immense number of bodies splashing about in the dirty pond.
On the seventh of August Prince Bagration wrote as follows from his quarters at Mikhaylovna on the Smolensk road:
Dear Count Alexis Andreevich- (He was writing to Arakcheev but knew that his letter would be read by the Emperor, and therefore weighed every word in it to the best of his ability.)
I expect the Minister [Barclay de Tolly] has already reported the abandonment of Smolensk to the enemy. It is pitiable and sad, and the whole army is in despair that this most important place has been wantonly abandoned. I, for my part, begged him personally most urgently and finally wrote him, but nothing would induce him to consent. I swear to you on my honor that Napoleon was in such a fix as never before and might have lost half his army but could not have taken Smolensk. Our troops fought, and are fighting, as never before. With fifteen thousand men I held the enemy at bay for thirty-five hours and beat him; but he would not hold out even for fourteen hours. It is disgraceful, a stain on our army, and as for him, he ought, it seems to me, not to live. If he reports that our losses were great, it is not true; perhaps about four thousand, not more, and not even that; but even were they ten thousand, that’s war! But the enemy has lost masses…
What would it have cost him to hold out for another two days? They would have had to retire of their own accord, for they had no water for men or horses. He gave me his word he would not retreat, but suddenly sent instructions that he was retiring that night. We cannot fight in this way, or we may soon bring the enemy to Moscow…
There is a rumor that you are thinking of peace. God forbid that you should make peace after all our sacrifices and such insane retreats! You would set all Russia against you and every one of us would feel ashamed to wear the uniform. If it has come to this- we must fight as long as Russia can and as long as there are men able to stand…
One man ought to be in command, and not two. Your Minister may perhaps be good as a Minister, but as a general he is not merely bad but execrable, yet to him is entrusted the fate of our whole country…. I am really frantic with vexation; forgive my writing boldly. It is clear that the man who advocates the conclusion of a peace, and that the Minister should command the army, does not love our sovereign and desires the ruin of us all. So I write you frankly: call out the militia. For the Minister is leading these visitors after him to Moscow in a most masterly way. The whole army feels great suspicion of the Imperial aide-de-camp Wolzogen. He is said to be more Napoleon’s man than ours, and he is always advising the Minister. I am not merely civil to him but obey him like a corporal, though I am his senior. This is painful, but, loving my benefactor and sovereign, I submit. Only I am sorry for the Emperor that he entrusts our fine army to such as he. Consider that on our retreat we have lost by fatigue and left in the hospital more than fifteen thousand men, and had we attacked this would not have happened. Tell me, for God’s sake, what will Russia, our mother Russia, say to our being so frightened, and why are we abandoning our good and gallant Fatherland to such rabble and implanting feelings of hatred and shame in all our subjects? What are we scared at and of whom are we afraid? I am not to blame that the Minister is vacillating, a coward, dense, dilatory, and has all bad qualities. The whole army bewails it and calls down curses upon him…
Among the innumerable categories applicable to the phenomena of human life one may discriminate between those in which substance prevails and those in which form prevails. To the latter- as distinguished from village, country, provincial, or even Moscow life- we may allot Petersburg life, and especially the life of its salons. That life of the salons is unchanging. Since the year 1805 we had made peace and had again quarreled with Bonaparte and had made constitutions and unmade them again, but the salons of Anna Pavlovna Helene remained just as they had been- the one seven and the other five years before. At Anna Pavlovna’s they talked with perplexity of Bonaparte’s successes just as before and saw in them and in the subservience shown to him by the European sovereigns a malicious conspiracy, the sole object of which was to cause unpleasantness and anxiety to the court circle of which Anna Pavlovna was the representative. And in Helene’s salon, which Rumyantsev himself honored with his visits, regarding Helene as a remarkably intelligent woman, they talked with the same ecstasy in 1812 as in 1808 of the “great nation” and the “great man,” and regretted our rupture with France, a rupture which, according to them, ought to be promptly terminated by peace.
Of late, since the Emperor’s return from the army, there had been some excitement in these conflicting salon circles and some demonstrations of hostility to one another, but each camp retained its own tendency. In Anna Pavlovna’s circle only those Frenchmen were admitted who were deep-rooted legitimists, and patriotic views were expressed to the effect that one ought not to go to the French theater and that to maintain the French troupe was costing the government as much as a whole army corps. The progress of the war was eagerly followed, and only the reports most flattering to our army were circulated. In the French circle of Helene and Rumyantsev the reports of the cruelty of the enemy and of the war were contradicted and all Napoleon’s attempts at conciliation were discussed. In that circle they discountenanced those who advised hurried preparations for a removal to Kazan of the court and the girls’ educational establishments under the patronage of the Dowager Empress. In Helene’s circle the war in general was regarded as a series of formal demonstrations which would very soon end in peace, and the view prevailed expressed by Bilibin- who now in Petersburg was quite at home in Helene’s house, which every clever man was obliged to visit- that not by gunpowder but by those who invented it would matters be settled. In that circle the Moscow enthusiasm- news of which had reached Petersburg simultaneously with the Emperor’s return- was ridiculed sarcastically and very cleverly, though with much caution.
Anna Pavlovna’s circle on the contrary was enraptured by this enthusiasm and spoke of it as Plutarch speaks of the deeds of the ancients. Prince Vasili, who still occupied his former important posts, formed a connecting link between these two circles. He visited his “good friend Anna Pavlovna” as well as his daughter’s “diplomatic salon,” and often in his constant comings and goings between the two camps became confused and said at Helene’s what he should have said at Anna Pavlovna’s and vice versa.
Soon after the Emperor’s return Prince Vasili in a conversation about the war at Anna Pavlovna’s severely condemned Barclay de Tolly, but was undecided as to who ought to be appointed commander in chief. One of the visitors, usually spoken of as “a man of great merit,” having described how he had that day seen Kutuzov, the newly chosen chief of the Petersburg militia, presiding over the enrollment of recruits at the Treasury, cautiously ventured to suggest that Kutuzov would be the man to satisfy all requirements.
Anna Pavlovna remarked with a melancholy smile that Kutuzov had done nothing but cause the Emperor annoyance.
“I have talked and talked at the Assembly of the Nobility,” Prince Vasili interrupted, “but they did not listen to me. I told them his election as chief of the militia would not please the Emperor. They did not listen to me.
“It’s all this mania for opposition,” he went on. “And who for? It is all because we want to ape the foolish enthusiasm of those Muscovites,” Prince Vasili continued, forgetting for a moment that though at Helene’s one had to ridicule the Moscow enthusiasm, at Anna Pavlovna’s one had to be ecstatic about it. But he retrieved his mistake at once. “Now, is it suitable that Count Kutuzov, the oldest general in Russia, should preside at that tribunal? He will get nothing for his pains! How could they make a man commander in chief who cannot mount a horse, who drops asleep at a council, and has the very worst morals! A good reputation he made for himself at Bucharest! I don’t speak of his capacity as a general, but at a time like this how they appoint a decrepit, blind old man, positively blind? A fine idea to have a blind general! He can’t see anything. To play blindman’s bluff? He can’t see at all!”
No one replied to his remarks.
This was quite correct on the twenty-fourth of July. But on the twenty-ninth of July Kutuzov received the title of Prince. This might indicate a wish to get rid of him, and therefore Prince Vasili’s opinion continued to be correct though he was not now in any hurry to express it. But on the eighth of August a committee, consisting of Field Marshal Saltykov, Arakcheev, Vyazmitinov, Lopukhin, and Kochubey met to consider the progress of the war. This committee came to the conclusion that our failures were due to a want of unity in the command and though the members of the committee were aware of the Emperor’s dislike of Kutuzov, after a short deliberation they agreed to advise his appointment as commander in chief. That same day Kutuzov was appointed commander in chief with full powers over the armies and over the whole region occupied by them.
On the ninth of August Prince Vasili at Anna Pavlovna’s again met the “man of great merit.” The latter was very attentive to Anna Pavlovna because he wanted to be appointed director of one of the educational establishments for young ladies. Prince Vasili entered the room with the air of a happy conqueror who has attained the object of his desires.
“Well, have you heard the great news? Prince Kutuzov is field marshal! All dissensions are at an end! I am so glad, so delighted! At last we have a man!” said he, glancing sternly and significantly round at everyone in the drawing room.
The “man of great merit,” despite his desire to obtain the post of director, could not refrain from reminding Prince Vasili of his former opinion. Though this was impolite to Prince Vasili in Anna Pavlovna’s drawing room, and also to Anna Pavlovna herself who had received the news with delight, he could not resist the temptation.
“But, Prince, they say he is blind!” said he, reminding Prince Vasili of his own words.
“Eh? Nonsense! He sees well enough,” said Prince Vasili rapidly, in a deep voice and with a slight cough- the voice and cough with which he was wont to dispose of all difficulties.
“He sees well enough,” he added. “And what I am so pleased about,” he went on, “is that our sovereign has given him full powers over all the armies and the whole region- powers no commander in chief ever had before. He is a second autocrat,” he concluded with a victorious smile.
“God grant it! God grant it!” said Anna Pavlovna.
The “man of great merit,” who was still a novice in court circles, wishing to flatter Anna Pavlovna by defending her former position on this question, observed:
“It is said that the Emperor was reluctant to give Kutuzov those powers. They say he blushed like a girl to whom Joconde is read, when he said to Kutuzov: ‘Your Emperor and the Fatherland award you this honor.’
“Perhaps the heart took no part in that speech,” said Anna Pavlovna.
“Oh, no, no!” warmly rejoined Prince Vasili, who would not now yield Kutuzov to anyone; in his opinion Kutuzov was not only admirable himself, but was adored by everybody. “No, that’s impossible,” said he, “for our sovereign appreciated him so highly before.”
“God grant only that Prince Kutuzov assumes real power and does not allow anyone to put a spoke in his wheel,” observed Anna Pavlovna.
Understanding at once to whom she alluded, Prince Vasili said in a whisper:
“I know for a fact that Kutuzov made it an absolute condition that the Tsarevich should not be with the army. Do you know what he said to the Emperor?”
And Prince Vasili repeated the words supposed to have been spoken by Kutuzov to the Emperor. “I can neither punish him if he does wrong nor reward him if he does right.”
“Oh, a very wise man is Prince Kutuzov! I have known him a long time!”
“They even say,” remarked the “man of great merit” who did not yet possess courtly tact, “that his excellency made it an express condition that the sovereign himself should not be with the army.”
As soon as he said this both Prince Vasili and Anna Pavlovna turned away from him and glanced sadly at one another with a sigh at his naivete.
While this was taking place in Petersburg the French had already passed Smolensk and were drawing nearer and nearer to Moscow. Napoleon’s historian Thiers, like other of his historians, trying to justify his hero says that he was drawn to the walls of Moscow against his will. He is as right as other historians who look for the explanation of historic events in the will of one man; he is as right as the Russian historians who maintain that Napoleon was drawn to Moscow by the skill of the Russian commanders. Here besides the law of retrospection, which regards all the past as a preparation for events that subsequently occur, the law of reciprocity comes in, confusing the whole matter. A good chessplayer having lost a game is sincerely convinced that his loss resulted from a mistake he made and looks for that mistake in the opening, but forgets that at each stage of the game there were similar mistakes and that none of his moves were perfect. He only notices the mistake to which he pays attention, because his opponent took advantage of it. How much more complex than this is the game of war, which occurs under certain limits of time, and where it is not one will that manipulates lifeless objects, but everything results from innumerable conflicts of various wills!
After Smolensk Napoleon sought a battle beyond Dorogobuzh at Vyazma, and then at Tsarevo-Zaymishche, but it happened that owing to a conjunction of innumerable circumstances the Russians could not give battle till they reached Borodino, seventy miles from Moscow. From Vyazma Napoleon ordered a direct advance on Moscow.
Moscou, la capitale asiatique de ce grand empire, la ville sacree des peuples d’Alexandre, Moscou avec ses innombrables eglises en forme de pagodes chinoises,* this Moscow gave Napoleon’s imagination no rest. On the march from Vyazma to Tsarevo-Zaymishche he rode his light bay bobtailed ambler accompanied by his Guards, his bodyguard, his pages, and aides-de-camp. Berthier, his chief of staff, dropped behind to question a Russian prisoner captured by the cavalry. Followed by Lelorgne d’Ideville, an interpreter, he overtook Napoleon at a gallop and reined in his horse with an amused expression.
*”Moscow, the Asiatic capital of this great empire, the sacred city of Alexander’s people, Moscow with its innumerable churches shaped like Chinese pagodas.”
“Well?” asked Napoleon.
“One of Platov’s Cossacks says that Platov’s corps is joining up with the main army and that Kutuzov has been appointed commander in chief. He is a very shrewd and garrulous fellow.”
Napoleon smiled and told them to give the Cossack a horse and bring the man to him. He wished to talk to him himself. Several adjutants galloped off, and an hour later, Lavrushka, the serf Denisov had handed over to Rostov, rode up to Napoleon in an orderly’s jacket and on a French cavalry saddle, with a merry, and tipsy face. Napoleon told him to ride by his side and began questioning him.
“You are a Cossack?”
“Yes, a Cossack, your Honor.”
“The Cossack, not knowing in what company he was, for Napoleon’s plain appearance had nothing about it that would reveal to an Oriental mind the presence of a monarch, talked with extreme familiarity of the incidents of the war,” says Thiers, narrating this episode. In reality Lavrushka, having got drunk the day before and left his master dinnerless, had been whipped and sent to the village in quest of chickens, where he engaged in looting till the French took him prisoner. Lavrushka was one of those coarse, bare-faced lackeys who have seen all sorts of things, consider it necessary to do everything in a mean and cunning way, are ready to render any sort of service to their master, and are keen at guessing their master’s baser impulses, especially those prompted by vanity and pettiness.
Finding himself in the company of Napoleon, whose identity he had easily and surely recognized, Lavrushka was not in the least abashed but merely did his utmost to gain his new master’s favor.
He knew very well that this was Napoleon, but Napoleon’s presence could no more intimidate him than Rostov’s, or a sergeant major’s with the rods, would have done, for he had nothing that either the sergeant major or Napoleon could deprive him of.
So he rattled on, telling all the gossip he had heard among the orderlies. Much of it true. But when Napoleon asked him whether the Russians thought they would beat Bonaparte or not, Lavrushka screwed up his eyes and considered.
In this question he saw subtle cunning, as men of his type see cunning in everything, so he frowned and did not answer immediately.
“It’s like this,” he said thoughtfully, “if there’s a battle soon, yours will win. That’s right. But if three days pass, then after that, well, then that same battle will not soon be over.”
Lelorgne d’Ideville smilingly interpreted this speech to Napoleon thus: “If a battle takes place within the next three days the French will win, but if later, God knows what will happen.” Napoleon did not smile, though he was evidently in high good humor, and he ordered these words to be repeated.
Lavrushka noticed this and to entertain him further, pretending not to know who Napoleon was, added:
“We know that you have Bonaparte and that he has beaten everybody in the world, but we are a different matter…”- without knowing why or how this bit of boastful patriotism slipped out at the end.
The interpreter translated these words without the last phrase, and Bonaparte smiled. “The young Cossack made his mighty interlocutor smile,” says Thiers. After riding a few paces in silence, Napoleon turned to Berthier and said he wished to see how the news that he was talking to the Emperor himself, to that very Emperor who had written his immortally victorious name on the Pyramids, would affect this enfant du Don.*
*”Child of the Don.”
The fact was accordingly conveyed to Lavrushka.
Lavrushka, understanding that this was done to perplex him and that Napoleon expected him to be frightened, to gratify his new masters promptly pretended to be astonished and awe-struck, opened his eyes wide, and assumed the expression he usually put on when taken to be whipped. “As soon as Napoleon’s interpreter had spoken,” says Thiers, “the Cossack, seized by amazement, did not utter another word, but rode on, his eyes fixed on the conqueror whose fame had reached him across the steppes of the East. All his loquacity was suddenly arrested and replaced by a naive and silent feeling of admiration. Napoleon, after making the Cossack a present, had him set free like a bird restored to its native fields.”
Napoleon rode on, dreaming of the Moscow that so appealed to his imagination, and “the bird restored to its native fields” galloped to our outposts, inventing on the way all that had not taken place but that he meant to relate to his comrades. What had really taken place he did not wish to relate because it seemed to him not worth telling. He found the Cossacks, inquired for the regiment operating with Platov’s detachment and by evening found his master, Nicholas Rostov, quartered at Yankovo. Rostov was just mounting to go for a ride round the neighboring villages with Ilyin; he let Lavrushka have another horse and took him along with him.
Princess Mary was not in Moscow and out of danger as Prince Andrew supposed.
After the return of Alpatych from Smolensk the old prince suddenly seemed to awake as from a dream. He ordered the militiamen to be called up from the villages and armed, and wrote a letter to the commander in chief informing him that he had resolved to remain at Bald Hills to the last extremity and to defend it, leaving to the commander in chief’s discretion to take measures or not for the defense of Bald Hills, where one of Russia’s oldest generals would be captured or killed, and he announced to his household that he would remain at Bald Hills.
But while himself remaining, he gave instructions for the departure of the princess and Dessalles with the little prince to Bogucharovo and thence to Moscow. Princess Mary, alarmed by her father’s feverish and sleepless activity after his previous apathy, could not bring herself to leave him alone and for the first time in her life ventured to disobey him. She refused to go away and her father’s fury broke over her in a terrible storm. He repeated every injustice he had ever inflicted on her. Trying to convict her, he told her she had worn him out, had caused his quarrel with his son, had harbored nasty suspicions of him, making it the object of her life to poison his existence, and he drove her from his study telling her that if she did not go away it was all the same to him. He declared that he did not wish to remember her existence and warned her not to dare to let him see her. The fact that he did not, as she had feared, order her to be carried away by force but only told her not to let him see her cheered Princess Mary. She knew it was a proof that in the depth of his soul he was glad she was remaining at home and had not gone away.
The morning after little Nicholas had left, the old prince donned his full uniform and prepared to visit the commander in chief. His caleche was already at the door. Princess Mary saw him walk out of the house in his uniform wearing all his orders and go down the garden to review his armed peasants and domestic serfs. She sat by the window listening to his voice which reached her from the garden. Suddenly several men came running up the avenue with frightened faces.
Princess Mary ran out to the porch, down the flower-bordered path, and into the avenue. A large crowd of militiamen and domestics were moving toward her, and in their midst several men were supporting by the armpits and dragging along a little old man in a uniform and decorations. She ran up to him and, in the play of the sunlight that fell in small round spots through the shade of the lime-tree avenue, could not be sure what change there was in his face. All she could see was that his former stern and determined expression had altered to one of timidity and submission. On seeing his daughter he moved his helpless lips and made a hoarse sound. It was impossible to make out what he wanted. He was lifted up, carried to his study, and laid on the very couch he had so feared of late.
The doctor, who was fetched that same night, bled him and said that the prince had had a seizure paralyzing his right side.
It was becoming more and more dangerous to remain at Bald Hills, and next day they moved the prince to Bogucharovo, the doctor accompanying him.
By the time they reached Bogucharovo, Dessalles and the little prince had already left for Moscow.
For three weeks the old prince lay stricken by paralysis in the new house Prince Andrew had built at Bogucharovo, ever in the same state, getting neither better nor worse. He was unconscious and lay like a distorted corpse. He muttered unceasingly, his eyebrows and lips twitching, and it was impossible to tell whether he understood what was going on around him or not. One thing was certain- that he was suffering and wished to say something. But what it was, no one could tell: it might be some caprice of a sick and half-crazy man, or it might relate to public affairs, or possibly to family concerns.
The doctor said this restlessness did not mean anything and was due to physical causes; but Princess Mary thought he wished to tell her something, and the fact that her presence always increased his restlessness confirmed her opinion.
He was evidently suffering both physically and mentally. There was no hope of recovery. It was impossible for him to travel, it would not do to let him die on the road. “Would it not be better if the end did come, the very end?” Princess Mary sometimes thought. Night and day, hardly sleeping at all, she watched him and, terrible to say, often watched him not with hope of finding signs of improvement but wishing to find symptoms of the approach of the end.
Strange as it was to her to acknowledge this feeling in herself, yet there it was. And what seemed still more terrible to her was that since her father’s illness began (perhaps even sooner, when she stayed with him expecting something to happen), all the personal desires and hopes that had been forgotten or sleeping within her had awakened. Thoughts that had not entered her mind for years- thoughts of a life free from the fear of her father, and even the possibility of love and of family happiness- floated continually in her imagination like temptations of the devil. Thrust them aside as she would, questions continually recurred to her as to how she would order her life now, after that. These were temptations of the devil and Princess Mary knew it. She knew that the sole weapon against him was prayer, and she tried to pray. She assumed an attitude of prayer, looked at the icons, repeated the words of a prayer, but she could not pray. She felt that a different world had now taken possession of her- the life of a world of strenuous and free activity, quite opposed to the spiritual world in which till now she had been confined and in which her greatest comfort had been prayer. She could not pray, could not weep, and worldly cares took possession of her.
It was becoming dangerous to remain in Bogucharovo. News of the approach of the French came from all sides, and in one village, ten miles from Bogucharovo, a homestead had been looted by French marauders.
The doctor insisted on the necessity of moving the prince; the provincial Marshal of the Nobility sent an official to Princess Mary to persuade her to get away as quickly as possible, and the head of the rural police having come to Bogucharovo urged the same thing, saying that the French were only some twenty-five miles away, that French proclamations were circulating in the villages, and that if the princess did not take her father away before the fifteenth, he could not answer for the consequences.
The princess decided to leave on the fifteenth. The cares of preparation and giving orders, for which everyone came to her, occupied her all day. She spent the night of the fourteenth as usual, without undressing, in the room next to the one where the prince lay. Several times, waking up, she heard his groans and muttering, the creak of his bed, and the steps of Tikhon and the doctor when they turned him over. Several times she listened at the door, and it seemed to her that his mutterings were louder than usual and that they turned him over oftener. She could not sleep and several times went to the door and listened, wishing to enter but not deciding to do so. Though he did not speak, Princess Mary saw and knew how unpleasant every sign of anxiety on his account was to him. She had noticed with what dissatisfaction he turned from the look she sometimes involuntarily fixed on him. She knew that her going in during the night at an unusual hour would irritate him.
But never had she felt so grieved for him or so much afraid of losing him. She recalled all her life with him and in every word and act of his found an expression of his love of her. Occasionally amid these memories temptations of the devil would surge into her imagination: thoughts of how things would be after his death, and how her new, liberated life would be ordered. But she drove these thoughts away with disgust. Toward morning he became quiet and she fell asleep.
She woke late. That sincerity which often comes with waking showed her clearly what chiefly concerned her about her father’s illness. On waking she listened to what was going on behind the door and, hearing him groan, said to herself with a sigh that things were still the same.
“But what could have happened? What did I want? I want his death!” she cried with a feeling of loathing for herself.
She washed, dressed, said her prayers, and went out to the porch. In front of it stood carriages without horses and things were being packed into the vehicles.
It was a warm, gray morning. Princess Mary stopped at the porch, still horrified by her spiritual baseness and trying to arrange her thoughts before going to her father. The doctor came downstairs and went out to her.
“He is a little better today,” said he. “I was looking for you. One can make out something of what he is saying. His head is clearer. Come in, he is asking for you…”
Princess Mary’s heart beat so violently at this news that she grew pale and leaned against the wall to keep from falling. To see him, talk to him, feel his eyes on her now that her whole soul was overflowing with those dreadful, wicked temptations, was a torment of joy and terror.
“Come,” said the doctor.
Princess Mary entered her father’s room and went up to his bed. He was lying on his back propped up high, and his small bony hands with their knotted purple veins were lying on the quilt; his left eye gazed straight before him, his right eye was awry, and his brows and lips motionless. He seemed altogether so thin, small, and pathetic. His face seemed to have shriveled or melted; his features had grown smaller. Princess Mary went up and kissed his hand. His left hand pressed hers so that she understood that he had long been waiting for her to come. He twitched her hand, and his brows and lips quivered angrily.
She looked at him in dismay trying to guess what he wanted of her. When she changed her position so that his left eye could see her face he calmed down, not taking his eyes off her for some seconds. Then his lips and tongue moved, sounds came, and he began to speak, gazing timidly and imploringly at her, evidently afraid that she might not understand.
Straining all her faculties Princess Mary looked at him. The comic efforts with which he moved his tongue made her drop her eyes and with difficulty repress the sobs that rose to her throat. He said something, repeating the same words several times. She could not understand them, but tried to guess what he was saying and inquiringly repeated the words he uttered.
“Mmm…ar…ate…ate…” he repeated several times.
It was quite impossible to understand these sounds. The doctor thought he had guessed them, and inquiringly repeated: “Mary, are you afraid?” The prince shook his head, again repeated the same sounds.
“My mind, my mind aches?” questioned Princess Mary.
He made a mumbling sound in confirmation of this, took her hand, and began pressing it to different parts of his breast as if trying to find the right place for it.
“Always thoughts… about you… thoughts…” he then uttered much more clearly than he had done before, now that he was sure of being understood.
Princess Mary pressed her head against his hand, trying to hide her sobs and tears.
He moved his hand over her hair.
“I have been calling you all night…” he brought out.
“If only I had known…” she said through her tears. “I was afraid to come in.”
He pressed her hand.
“Weren’t you asleep?”
“No, I did not sleep,” said Princess Mary, shaking her head.
Unconsciously imitating her father, she now tried to express herself as he did, as much as possible by signs, and her tongue too seemed to move with difficulty.
“Dear one… Dearest…” Princess Mary could not quite make out what he had said, but from his look it was clear that he had uttered a tender caressing word such as he had never used to her before. “Why didn’t you come in?”
“And I was wishing for his death!” thought Princess Mary.
He was silent awhile.
“Thank you… daughter dear!… for all, for all… forgive!… thank you!… forgive!… thank you!…” and tears began to flow from his eyes. “Call Andrew!” he said suddenly, and a childish, timid expression of doubt showed itself on his face as he spoke.
He himself seemed aware that his demand was meaningless. So at least it seemed to Princess Mary.
“I have a letter from him,” she replied.
He glanced at her with timid surprise.
“Where is he?”
“He’s with the army, Father, at Smolensk.”
He closed his eyes and remained silent a long time. Then as if in answer to his doubts and to confirm the fact that now he understood and remembered everything, he nodded his head and reopened his eyes.
“Yes,” he said, softly and distinctly. “Russia has perished. They’ve destroyed her.”
And he began to sob, and again tears flowed from his eyes. Princess Mary could no longer restrain herself and wept while she gazed at his face.
Again he closed his eyes. His sobs ceased, he pointed to his eyes, and Tikhon, understanding him, wiped away the tears.
Then he again opened his eyes and said something none of them could understand for a long time, till at last Tikhon understood and repeated it. Princess Mary had sought the meaning of his words in the mood in which he had just been speaking. She thought he was speaking of Russia, or Prince Andrew, of herself, of his grandson, or of his own death, and so she could not guess his words.
“Put on your white dress. I like it,” was what he said.
Having understood this Princess Mary sobbed still louder, and the doctor taking her arm led her out to the veranda, soothing her and trying to persuade her to prepare for her journey. When she had left the room the prince again began speaking about his son, about the war, and about the Emperor, angrily twitching his brows and raising his hoarse voice, and then he had a second and final stroke.
Princess Mary stayed on the veranda. The day had cleared, it was hot and sunny. She could understand nothing, think of nothing and feel nothing, except passionate love for her father, love such as she thought she had never felt till that moment. She ran out sobbing into the garden and as far as the pond, along the avenues of young lime trees Prince Andrew had planted.
“Yes… I… I… I wished for his death! Yes, I wanted it to end quicker…. I wished to be at peace…. And what will become of me? What use will peace be when he is no longer here?” Princess Mary murmured, pacing the garden with hurried steps and pressing her hands to her bosom which heaved with convulsive sobs.
When she had completed the tour of the garden, which brought her again to the house, she saw Mademoiselle Bourienne- who had remained at Bogucharovo and did not wish to leave it- coming toward her with a stranger. This was the Marshal of the Nobility of the district, who had come personally to point out to the princess the necessity for her prompt departure. Princess Mary listened without understanding him; she led him to the house, offered him lunch, and sat down with him. Then, excusing herself, she went to the door of the old prince’s room. The doctor came out with an agitated face and said she could not enter.
“Go away, Princess! Go away… go away!”
She returned to the garden and sat down on the grass at the foot of the slope by the pond, where no one could see her. She did not know how long she had been there when she was aroused by the sound of a woman’s footsteps running along the path. She rose and saw Dunyasha her maid, who was evidently looking for her, and who stopped suddenly as if in alarm on seeing her mistress.
“Please come, Princess… The Prince,” said Dunyasha in a breaking voice.
“Immediately, I’m coming, I’m coming!” replied the princess hurriedly, not giving Dunyasha time to finish what she was saying, and trying to avoid seeing the girl she ran toward the house.
“Princess, it’s God’s will! You must be prepared for everything,” said the Marshal, meeting her at the house door.
“Let me alone; it’s not true!” she cried angrily to him.
The doctor tried to stop her. She pushed him aside and ran to her father’s door. “Why are these people with frightened faces stopping me? I don’t want any of them! And what are they doing here?” she thought. She opened the door and the bright daylight in that previously darkened room startled her. In the room were her nurse and other women. They all drew back from the bed, making way for her. He was still lying on the bed as before, but the stern expression of his quiet face made Princess Mary stop short on the threshold.
“No, he’s not dead- it’s impossible!” she told herself and approached him, and repressing the terror that seized her, she pressed her lips to his cheek. But she stepped back immediately. All the force of the tenderness she had been feeling for him vanished instantly and was replaced by a feeling of horror at what lay there before her. “No, he is no more! He is not, but here where he was is something unfamiliar and hostile, some dreadful, terrifying, and repellent mystery!” And hiding her face in her hands, Princess Mary sank into the arms of the doctor, who held her up.
In the presence of Tikhon and the doctor the women washed what had been the prince, tied his head up with a handkerchief that the mouth should not stiffen while open, and with another handkerchief tied together the legs that were already spreading apart. Then they dressed him in uniform with his decorations and placed his shriveled little body on a table. Heaven only knows who arranged all this and when, but it all got done as if of its own accord. Toward night candles were burning round his coffin, a pall was spread over it, the floor was strewn with sprays of juniper, a printed band was tucked in under his shriveled head, and in a corner of the room sat a chanter reading the psalms.
Just as horses shy and snort and gather about a dead horse, so the inmates of the house and strangers crowded into the drawing room round the coffin- the Marshal, the village Elder, peasant women- and all with fixed and frightened eyes, crossing themselves, bowed and kissed the old prince’s cold and stiffened hand.
Until Prince Andrew settled in Bogucharovo its owners had always been absentees, and its peasants were of quite a different character from those of Bald Hills. They differed from them in speech, dress, and disposition. They were called steppe peasants. The old prince used to approve of them for their endurance at work when they came to Bald Hills to help with the harvest or to dig ponds, and ditches, but he disliked them for their boorishness.
Prince Andrew’s last stay at Bogucharovo, when he introduced hospitals and schools and reduced the quitrent the peasants had to pay, had not softened their disposition but had on the contrary strengthened in them the traits of character the old prince called boorishness. Various obscure rumors were always current among them: at one time a rumor that they would all be enrolled as Cossacks; at another of a new religion to which they were all to be converted; then of some proclamation of the Tsar’s and of an oath to the Tsar Paul in 1797 (in connection with which it was rumored that freedom had been granted them but the landowners had stopped it), then of Peter Fedorovich’s return to the throne in seven years’ time, when everything would be made free and so “simple” that there would be no restrictions. Rumors of the war with Bonaparte and his invasion were connected in their minds with the same sort of vague notions of Antichrist, the end of the world, and “pure freedom.”
In the vicinity of Bogucharovo were large villages belonging to the crown or to owners whose serfs paid quitrent and could work where they pleased. There were very few resident landlords in the neighborhood and also very few domestic or literate serfs, and in the lives of the peasantry of those parts the mysterious undercurrents in the life of the Russian people, the causes and meaning of which are so baffling to contemporaries, were more clearly and strongly noticeable than among others. One instance, which had occurred some twenty years before, was a movement among the peasants to emigrate to some unknown “warm rivers.” Hundreds of peasants, among them the Bogucharovo folk, suddenly began selling their cattle and moving in whole families toward the southeast. As birds migrate to somewhere beyond the sea, so these men with their wives and children streamed to the southeast, to parts where none of them had ever been. They set off in caravans, bought their freedom one by one or ran away, and drove or walked toward the “warm rivers.” Many of them were punished, some sent to Siberia, many died of cold and hunger on the road, many returned of their own accord, and the movement died down of itself just as it had sprung up, without apparent reason. But such undercurrents still existed among the people and gathered new forces ready to manifest themselves just as strangely, unexpectedly, and at the same time simply, naturally, and forcibly. Now in 1812, to anyone living in close touch with these people it was apparent that these undercurrents were acting strongly and nearing an eruption.
Alpatych, who had reached Bogucharovo shortly before the old prince’s death, noticed an agitation among the peasants, and that contrary to what was happening in the Bald Hills district, where over a radius of forty miles all the peasants were moving away and leaving their villages to be devastated by the Cossacks, the peasants in the steppe region round Bogucharovo were, it was rumored, in touch with the French, received leaflets from them that passed from hand to hand, and did not migrate. He learned from domestic serfs loyal to him that the peasant Karp, who possessed great influence in the village commune and had recently been away driving a government transport, had returned with news that the Cossacks were destroying deserted villages, but that the French did not harm them. Alpatych also knew that on the previous day another peasant had even brought from the village of Visloukhovo, which was occupied by the French, a proclamation by a French general that no harm would be done to the inhabitants, and if they remained they would be paid for anything taken from them. As proof of this the peasant had brought from Visloukhovo a hundred rubles in notes (he did not know that they were false) paid to him in advance for hay.
More important still, Alpatych learned that on the morning of the very day he gave the village Elder orders to collect carts to move the princess’ luggage from Bogucharovo, there had been a village meeting at which it had been decided not to move but to wait. Yet there was no time to waste. On the fifteenth, the day of the old prince’s death, the Marshal had insisted on Princess Mary’s leaving at once, as it was becoming dangerous. He had told her that after the sixteenth he could not be responsible for what might happen. On the evening of the day the old prince died the Marshal went away, promising to return next day for the funeral. But this he was unable to do, for he received tidings that the French had unexpectedly advanced, and had barely time to remove his own family and valuables from his estate.
For some thirty years Bogucharovo had been managed by the village Elder, Dron, whom the old prince called by the diminutive “Dronushka.”
Dron was one of those physically and mentally vigorous peasants who grow big beards as soon as they are of age and go on unchanged till they are sixty or seventy, without a gray hair or the loss of a tooth, as straight and strong at sixty as at thirty.
Soon after the migration to the “warm rivers,” in which he had taken part like the rest, Dron was made village Elder and overseer of Bogucharovo, and had since filled that post irreproachably for twenty-three years. The peasants feared him more than they did their master. The masters, both the old prince and the young, and the steward respected him and jestingly called him “the Minister.” During the whole time of his service Dron had never been drunk or ill, never after sleepless nights or the hardest tasks had he shown the least fatigue, and though he could not read he had never forgotten a single money account or the number of quarters of flour in any of the endless cartloads he sold for the prince, nor a single shock of the whole corn crop on any single acre of the Bogucharovo fields.
Alpatych, arriving from the devastated Bald Hills estate, sent for his Dron on the day of the prince’s funeral and told him to have twelve horses got ready for the princess’ carriages and eighteen carts for the things to be removed from Bogucharovo. Though the peasants paid quitrent, Alpatych thought no difficulty would be made about complying with this order, for there were two hundred and thirty households at work in Bogucharovo and the peasants were well to do. But on hearing the order Dron lowered his eyes and remained silent. Alpatych named certain peasants he knew, from whom he told him to take the carts.
Dron replied that the horses of these peasants were away carting. Alpatych named others, but they too, according to Dron, had no horses available: some horses were carting for the government, others were too weak, and others had died for want of fodder. It seemed that no horses could be had even for the carriages, much less for the carting.
Alpatych looked intently at Dron and frowned. Just as Dron was a model village Elder, so Alpatych had not managed the prince’s estates for twenty years in vain. He a model steward, possessing in the highest degree the faculty of divining the needs and instincts of those he dealt with. Having glanced at Dron he at once understood that his answers did not express his personal views but the general mood of the Bogucharovo commune, by which the Elder had already been carried away. But he also knew that Dron, who had acquired property and was hated by the commune, must be hesitating between the two camps: the masters’ and the serfs’. He noticed this hesitation in Dron’s look and therefore frowned and moved closer up to him.
“Now just listen, Dronushka,” said he. “Don’t talk nonsense to me. His excellency Prince Andrew himself gave me orders to move all the people away and not leave them with the enemy, and there is an order from the Tsar about it too. Anyone who stays is a traitor to the Tsar. Do you hear?”
“I hear,” Dron answered without lifting his eyes.
Alpatych was not satisfied with this reply.
“Eh, Dron, it will turn out badly!” he said, shaking his head.
“The power is in your hands,” Dron rejoined sadly.
“Eh, Dron, drop it!” Alpatych repeated, withdrawing his hand from his bosom and solemnly pointing to the floor at Dron’s feet. “I can see through you and three yards into the ground under you,” he continued, gazing at the floor in front of Dron.
Dron was disconcerted, glanced furtively at Alpatych and again lowered his eyes.
“You drop this nonsense and tell the people to get ready to leave their homes and go to Moscow and to get carts ready for tomorrow morning for the princess’ things. And don’t go to any meeting yourself, do you hear?”
Dron suddenly fell on his knees.
“Yakov Alpatych, discharge me! Take the keys from me and discharge me, for Christ’s sake!”
“Stop that!” cried Alpatych sternly. “I see through you and three yards under you,” he repeated, knowing that his skill in beekeeping, his knowledge of the right time to sow the oats, and the fact that he had been able to retain the old prince’s favor for twenty years had long since gained him the reputation of being a wizard, and that the power of seeing three yards under a man is considered an attribute of wizards.
Dron got up and was about to say something, but Alpatych interrupted him.
“What is it you have got into your heads, eh?… What are you thinking of, eh?”
“What am I to do with the people?” said Dron. “They’re quite beside themselves; I have already told them…”
“‘Told them,’ I dare say!” said Alpatych. “Are they drinking?” he asked abruptly.
“Quite beside themselves, Yakov Alpatych; they’ve fetched another barrel.”
“Well, then, listen! I’ll go to the police officer, and you tell them so, and that they must stop this and the carts must be got ready.”
Alpatych did not insist further. He had managed people for a long time and knew that the chief way to make them obey is to show no suspicion that they can possibly disobey. Having wrung a submissive “I understand” from Dron, Alpatych contented himself with that, though he not only doubted but felt almost certain that without the help of troops the carts would not be forthcoming.
And so it was, for when evening came no carts had been provided. In the village, outside the drink shop, another meeting was being held, which decided that the horses should be driven out into the woods and the carts should not be provided. Without saying anything of this to the princess, Alpatych had his own belongings taken out of the carts which had arrived from Bald Hills and had those horses got ready for the princess’ carriages. Meanwhile he went himself to the police authorities.
After her father’s funeral Princess Mary shut herself up in her room and did not admit anyone. A maid came to the door to say that Alpatych was asking for orders about their departure. (This was before his talk with Dron.) Princess Mary raised herself on the sofa on which she had been lying and replied through the closed door that she did not mean to go away and begged to be left in peace.
The windows of the room in which she was lying looked westward. She lay on the sofa with her face to the wall, fingering the buttons of the leather cushion and seeing nothing but that cushion, and her confused thoughts were centered on one subject- the irrevocability of death and her own spiritual baseness, which she had not suspected, but which had shown itself during her father’s illness. She wished to pray but did not dare to, dared not in her present state of mind address herself to God. She lay for a long time in that position.
The sun had reached the other side of the house, and its slanting rays shone into the open window, lighting up the room and part of the morocco cushion at which Princess Mary was looking. The flow of her thoughts suddenly stopped. Unconsciously she sat up, smoothed her hair, got up, and went to the window, involuntarily inhaling the freshness of the clear but windy evening.
“Yes, you can well enjoy the evening now! He is gone and no one will hinder you,” she said to herself, and sinking into a chair she let her head fall on the window sill.
Someone spoke her name in a soft and tender voice from the garden and kissed her head. She looked up. It was Mademoiselle Bourienne in a black dress and weepers. She softly approached Princess Mary, sighed, kissed her, and immediately began to cry. The princess looked up at her. All their former disharmony and her own jealousy recurred to her mind. But she remembered too how he had changed of late toward Mademoiselle Bourienne and could not bear to see her, thereby showing how unjust were the reproaches Princess Mary had mentally addressed to her. “Besides, is it for me, for me who desired his death, to condemn anyone?” she thought.
Princess Mary vividly pictured to herself the position of Mademoiselle Bourienne, whom she had of late kept at a distance, but who yet was dependent on her and living in her house. She felt sorry for her and held out her hand with a glance of gentle inquiry. Mademoiselle Bourienne at once began crying again and kissed that hand, speaking of the princess’ sorrow and making herself a partner in it. She said her only consolation was the fact that the princess allowed her to share her sorrow, that all the old misunderstandings should sink into nothing but this great grief; that she felt herself blameless in regard to everyone, and that he, from above, saw her affection and gratitude. The princess heard her, not heeding her words but occasionally looking up at her and listening to the sound of her voice.
“Your position is doubly terrible, dear princess,” said Mademoiselle Bourienne after a pause. “I understand that you could not, and cannot, think of yourself, but with my love for you I must do so…. Has Alpatych been to you? Has he spoken to you of going away?” she asked.
Princess Mary did not answer. She did not understand who was to go or where to. “Is it possible to plan or think of anything now? Is it not all the same?” she thought, and did not reply.
“You know, chere Marie,” said Mademoiselle Bourienne, “that we are in danger- are surrounded by the French. It would be dangerous to move now. If we go we are almost sure to be taken prisoners, and God knows…”
Princess Mary looked at her companion without understanding what she was talking about.
“Oh, if anyone knew how little anything matters to me now,” she said. “Of course I would on no account wish to go away from him…. Alpatych did say something about going…. Speak to him; I can do nothing, nothing, and don’t want to….”
“I’ve spoken to him. He hopes we should be in time to get away tomorrow, but I think it would now be better to stay here,” said Mademoiselle Bourienne. “Because, you will agree, chere Marie, to fall into the hands of the soldiers or of riotous peasants would be terrible.”
Mademoiselle Bourienne took from her reticule a proclamation (not printed on ordinary Russian paper) of General Rameau’s, telling people not to leave their homes and that the French authorities would afford them proper protection. She handed this to the princess.
“I think it would be best to appeal to that general,” she continued, “and and am sure that all due respect would be shown you.”
Princess Mary read the paper, and her face began to quiver with stifled sobs.
“From whom did you get this?” she asked.
“They probably recognized that I am French, by my name,” replied Mademoiselle Bourienne blushing.